There are many, many different ways for you to gauge how well your site is doing. You can look at: your monthly traffic, your Alexa rank, the number of subscribers you have, the number of comments per post you get, or even the number of times your articles have been bookmarked on Delicious.
But I’d like to suggest that none of those really matter, or at least they don’t matter much. Why? Because none of them are truly reliable indicators of quality content.
So, the better question to ask is: how do I know if my content is any good? Basically, how can you tell when what you’re writing about is actually valuable to other people (and not just interesting to you)?
Here are the two things I’ve found that really help determine this:
- Sites that link back to me, analyzing what I said.
- Direct emails from readers, saying how my content has affected their routine.
[Sidenote: those two things make me sound really important and influential, but I can assure you that they’re both fairly rare occurrences.]
I bookmark nearly every post where someone has mentioned me or linked back to my site in a positive light (I got this idea from Ramit Ben). This is a really easy way to keep track of how people are interpreting your message and then spreading it to others. I highly recommend you do this because you’ll basically create a testimonials page for yourself. In a few months/years, you’ll have a decent-sized catalog that points to your influence on other sites.
I also label emails I get from people who have reached out to me after reading my content, saying how it affected them. These emails are just as important for you as getting linked to from other sites. They are from people who have taken time out of their day to write to you directly, admitting that you’ve somehow made an impact on them. That means you’re doing something right. You’ve hit upon a subject that resonated with that person for some reason or another, and have catalyzed a change in their life (hopefully for the better).
Here’s a suggestion: when you receive a good email from someone, get that person on the phone or on Skype and talk with them for a few minutes. I guarantee that they’ll read every single post you write after that, word-for-word. When you humanize the medium, you convert subscribers into fans.